Episode 722: Don’t ever, ever quit, with Stephen Woessner
Good Morning Onward Nation…I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and your host for Onward Nation. Welcome to Episode 722, which will be a solocast — where it will be just you and me covering a topic.
Before we dive into what I would like to share with you this morning — I would first like to say thank you and to give you an update.
I want to say thank you for you taking the time to be here — you have a lot of demands on your time — I know your schedule is compressed — I know that the life of the business owner means you are pulled in many different directions — so I greatly appreciate you choosing to be here this morning — to share some of your invaluable 86,400 seconds that you have today, with me — I take that very seriously so I wanted to be sure to let you know how much your time means to me.
Second…I owe you an update. In January, I shared that one of our 2018 vital priorities at Predictive ROI was for us to launch a YouTube series — and our original plan was to have it launched by April — right now. And it isn’t ready. And I am the reason why. We made some excellent progress — and then I felt the onslaught of the imposter syndrome and the myriad of questions and a flood of presuppositions hit me — and in full transparency, Onward Nation — I let the imposter syndrome break my momentum — and worse yet — affect the schedule that I had promised you.
Well, Katherine Baessler, our director of content marketing and a member of my leadership team here at Predictive ROI, called me on it. During our off-site leadership session last week…she asked me why I had fallen behind. She forced me to recognize what was going on — and it wasn’t comfortable. And she would not let me off the hook until we had a plan in place that I committed to.
So…our first YouTube video will air on Thursday, May 3rd — it is in our airing schedule — we are collecting the final footage over the next couple of weeks while my team and I are in Austin, Seattle, and San Diego working on-site with some of our Predictive clients as well as a couple of speaking engagements.
All that is to say — my team kicked me in rear when I needed it because that is what great teammates do, and as a result, I shoved the imposter syndrome to the curb and got my act together. So…I am very excited to share Episode 1 of our YouTube series with you on Thursday, May 3rd — stay tuned.
Okay…so for today — we are going to talk about quitting because the temptation to quit is something we all face — when the stress is high — when the problems pile up — when the fear seems insurmountable — the temptations to quit a project, quit the business, or the myriad of other temptations can seem more and more attractive. Our momentum breaks, we start to lose our focus, and then pretty soon, we have drifted out to see and are far from the goal back on the shore.
And again in full transparency…had it not been for Katherine on my team stepping in and snapping me back to reality — we may not have checked the YouTube series off our list of 2018 vital priorities. But — when Katherine stepped in — I got mad — not at her — but at myself — because I have never, ever, ever, quit on anything in my life. And I don’t plan to start now.
Quitting in life, quitting in business, quitting on family — quitting in all its shapes and sizes. It breaks my heart when I see it happen. People who possess an abundance of God-given talent — as we all do — but then don’t apply it.
It’s tragic. So I wanted to share some insights about quitting that I have learned over the last 25 years of my career as a business owner — owning five companies — but as the lessons I re-learned again last week — despite all of the experience someone has, the resolve, the commitment, and the track record — the temptation to quit can still rise up.
So it needs to be counteracted and pushed aside, Onward Nation.
My hope for you is that today’s discussion will help you to push aside any temptations to quit that you may be feeling, too.
So I’m going to start us off by introducing you to one of the most influential mentors in my life…he is someone you have likely never read about, never heard of, never quoted…in fact…one the surface…most people might think he led a rather ordinary life because his name was never up in lights.
He never graced the cover of SUCCESS Magazine…he was never the author of a bestselling book. And he never made the list of top influencers…but…that did not limit his influence or the impact he created in the lives of many.
Because the exterior trappings of success are not the true testimony of the quality of someone’s life. The relationships, the love, the personal impact is the really good stuff, Onward Nation.
I have met many successful people by the world’s standards…they had everything…they had fame, they had fortune, they possessed every material thing you could imagine, and yet, they were miserable.
Their spouse was miserable because he or she never got to see them.
Their kids were miserable because the deep emotional connection that should have been there was missing — a terrible hole was there instead. A hole that can only be filled by a steady stream of love and caring.
But, the person I am referring to taught me the true definition of success, as well as the power of persistence, the power of tenacity, the power of grit…the power in moving slowly, consistently, and pursuing something over the long haul.
Because when we do these things…great things happen…and all of that was made possible because of his quiet, relentless attitude toward never, ever quitting.
He never quit.
His name was Peter Maronitis.
Peter was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1902. His family was Greek but they lived in Istanbul. And this was a time when it was not awesome to be a Greek male living, working, or trying to raise a family in Turkey.
There was ethnic cleansing — a Greek genocide — such an awful term — and so it was common that an Greek adult male wouldn’t make it back to his home at night because he had been whacked behind a shed somewhere or rounded up to fight for the Turkish army against whoever they were fighting at the time.
That was the harsh reality of the day — that Peter’s father had to navigate each day when he left his home for work.
And one day, tragedy struck and Peter’s father didn’t come home. Peter was the ripe old age of 8 years old…his father didn’t come home…and now it looked as though Peter was the man of the house.
Peter ran out of the house…in pursuit…to find his Dad…he searched the city…he got onto a train…he continued his search…looking…desperately…he didn’t quit…it was Peter’s first taste of a the relentless pursuit for someone — for something he loved.
But still…his father would never return.
So, Peter at 8 years old was indeed the man of the house.
He dropped out of the third grade in order to make enough money to support his mother and his younger brother and sister.
Eight years old, Onward Nation.
Peter did it…without complaining…without feeling self-pity…without feeling disadvantaged. He did his duty and he did it with excellence.
Every day…for 10 years.
And despite the end of his formal education at the 3rd grade…he never stopped learning. He studied and read whatever he could get his hands on…and in doing so…a dream was sparked in his mind.
His dream…Peter wanted to make his way to the United States and then own his own restaurant…to build a better life for himself and his family.
He promised his mother, sister, and brother that if he made it to America, he would save his money and come back to get them so they could all live together.
When Peter was 18 years old — he received that opportunity!
Through some mutual friends…Peter’s dream was set into motion. But isn’t it interesting, Onward Nation…how through determined, unrelenting focus, hard work, and grit — what we want most in this world finds its way into our circle?
And Peter’s focus had definitely been unrelenting.
So, Peter made it to the United States with no money and couldn’t speak the language. He followed the mass of Greeks who were headed to Canton, Ohio to work in the steel mills.
Peter worked in the mills for a couple of days and realized that was not going to be the path that would get him closer to his dream of owning his restaurant.
Instead, he pursued a job in a downtown Canton restaurant where he would cut vegetables and wash dishes on the night shift. As you might imagine, Onward Nation…it was back-breaking work…he bent over a sink and then a cutting board…all night, every night.
But he did it…with a happy and grateful heart because he was in the pursuit of his total happiness, Onward Nation. He was working in pursuit of his dream and he would not quit!
During those years working in the restaurant, Peter learned English. And then providence set in. One of the cooks on the day shift befriended Peter and gave him his old knife set so that Peter could refine his food preparation skills.
That knife set end up being Peter’s ticket to getting off of the night shift and onto the day shift as an apprentice where he could make more money.
Within a short period of time…Peter was on the day shift and saving all his money.
After just 6 years later, Onward Nation, without knowing English, without any money, without a formal education, without a network of influential contacts, and while gritting it out doing work that many people today would refuse to do — Peter had saved enough money to open his own restaurant and bring his family from Istanbul to live with him in Canton.
The restaurant was called the Ideal, which ended up being the first in a total of three restaurants Peter would go on to own.
He delivered on his promise to himself and to his family.
Not by getting funding from so angel investor. Not through a Kickstarter campaign. Not through loans from family members. Not through an economic development grant. No!
He was successful because he refused to quit when his body and mind tried to convince him to do just that.
He refused to quit.
But…as you may have already guessed…there’s more to this story.
Peter opened his restaurant called “The Ideal” in downtown Canton at a time when Canton was often considered “Little Chicago” because of how organized crime running rampant.
In fact, if you read Napoleon Hill’s brilliant book, “Outwitting the Devil”, he shares a story about his visit to Canton in July 1926 to meet with local publisher Don Mellet. And how Mellet was gunned down by mobsters while Napoleon was in town for the meeting.
And the mobsters who killed Mellet also threatened Hill and forced him out of Canton. Yep, that was Canton, Ohio at the time…the same time Peter was courageously running his brand new restaurant downtown…right in the thick of all the action.
Insane, Onward Nation.
But even the threat of organized crime didn’t persuade Peter to quit. He pushed forward.
And just when he thought he was making progress…the United States and the world entered the Great Depression in 1929 — just a few short years after opening his restaurant.
Here is a photo of Peter standing behind the lunch counter of “The Ideal” during the Great Depression. You will see the humble beginnings of a very humble man. And if you were to have asked Peter about his business plan during the Depression, he would have said, “If you take care of your customers, they will take care of you. Because everyone’s got to eat.”
A simple business plan that Peter executed flawlessly every day.
In my opinion, Peter was also the creator of the original value meal…he sold homemade soup and sandwich for a nickel. During the Depression, he gave away more soup than he ever sold.
And yet, the story of Peter doesn’t end there.
Peter married the woman of his dreams in Julia Katsaris — and together — they ran the restaurant and raised four wonderful kids along the way.
In their kids, they instilled their lessons of Family Comes First…you take care of your customers…and all of the other business lessons they had learned through 42 years in the restaurant business.
And when Peter and Julia retired…they shifted their attention toward their 10 grandchildren and instilling all of these powerful lessons into them so they could be well equipped to move ONWARD and become leaders in business, within their communities, and to become great parents.
Peter and Julia wanted their grandchildren to understand their family’s history…the risks they took to get here…to stay here…and what it takes to create a meaningful life that revolved around service…around grit, tenacity, and never ever quitting…no matter the odds.
And in the end…how important it is to be kind and compassionate…because those are the true keys to success.
Some years later — after Peter’s retirement — his adult son Bill Maronitis, who also became the owner to two successful restaurants, asked his father, “Pop, why did you give away so much soup during the Depression?”
And Peter looked at Bill, and with compassion and kindness in his eyes, said to him, “I gave away the soup because I know Jesus is coming back some day — I don’t know what Jesus will be wearing — or what Jesus will look like when he comes — so I’m going to be kind to everyone.”
When Bill Maronitis shared that story with me — he had tears in his eyes because that lesson from his father was that impactful and had helped shaped who Bill had becomes as a person and how he served his customers as a business owner.
Look, Onward Nation…there will be times that will weaken the best of us. But the truly great, those like Peter, they are the ones who got back up…dusted themselves off and got back to their work without feeling sorry for themselves. There was no victim mentality in his spirit — only a commitment to what he believed was right and why he was put here on this Earth.
Don’t let yourself fall into the seductive trap of self-pity — yes, it can be comforting for a season during a period of loss — of grief — and we need to take the time to honor the loss — but if we are not careful — the thoughts of self-pity, or telling ourselves that we cannot move past an obstacle, or that we are somehow not worthy to conquer that next challenge — or saying to ourselves over and over again that we can’t do something — those thoughts of low quality, of pessimism, will destroy your pursuit of happiness.
Your thoughts of fear will cause you to slow down — ever so slightly — each day — and you will begin to move at the pace of the herd.
And that is not the pace and tempo you need to run at, Onward Nation.
Little by little — if you are not vigilant — you will slowly quit, each day.
But don’t ever quit, Onward Nation. Ever.
Happiness is only achieved by the relentless pursuit of what you love most in this world — something or someone — you love more than anything else — that your love is so intense you cannot breathe without it.
For Peter — his happiness was driven by creating a better life for himself, his family, and taking the steps and necessary risks to make that happen.
And he did it.
He didn’t wait for someone to make it happen for him. He was generous, he gave, he took care of the people around him — and they took care of his during his times of need, too.
But, and maybe you’re asking yourself… “How does Stephen know all of this to be true about Peter?”
Well, Onward Nation…Peter Maronitis was my grandfather.
And Bill Maronitis, Peter’s son from the soup story…is my uncle…and my godfather.
My Uncle Bill is also one of my first mentors, one of my first employers — I started washing dishes in his restaurant when I was 11 years old — and he has always been a strong and dependable father figure in my life — and still is to this day.
I have the honor of being one of the 10 grandchildren who had the privilege of learning these lessons of success directly from Peter. And the four amazing kids Peter and Julia raised…are my Aunt Joy, my Uncle Bill, my mother, and my Aunt Elaine.
And Canton, Ohio — well — that is my beloved hometown, Onward Nation.
Peter was a great man who gave everything for what he believed in. He took great risks coming to a foreign country seeking to create a better future for his family — to create legacy for all of us grandkids.
So the photo of Peter in his restaurant that I mentioned earlier — it hangs on the wall in my office next to my desk — and my Uncle Bill has the same photo framed on the wall in his restaurant.
It is a visual reminder of our family’s legacy — where we came from. Our entrepreneurial DNA — our roots.
There has been many a long night when I am working in my office late — when I would much rather quit and go to bed…and then I look up from my work…and see Pop looking at me from the photo on my wall…and I think to myself…he did all that he did for me so I could live this kind of life…so I could have the opportunity to spend time with you Onward Nation, so I could do all that I do and enjoy today.
He did that for me.
He worked so hard and took so many risks.
So what in the world is my excuse? That I can’t send out that last email…write one more invitation to a rockin’ awesome guest…create the strategy for one more client…that I can’t get that YouTube series launched?
His legacy helps keep me laser-focused on my most vital priorities — and right now — that is Thursday, May 3rd for Episode 1 on YouTube.
And my hope is that Peter’s story has done the same for you, Onward Nation.
So don’t ever quit. Never ever give up.
You were meant for greatness. You are a child of the most high God. You are instilled with an abundance of talent and gifts. Please don’t let something so small as fear — or your circumstances — limit all you were meant to be.
As my mentor and great friend Don Yaeger says, “Greatness is available to all of us IF you are willing to do the common things uncommonly well.”
So be uncommon, Onward Nation — and never ever quit.
So with that said…
I want to again say thank you for taking the time to be here with me today. It is an honor to have you here.
And please continue to let me know what you think of Onward Nation…good or bad…I always want your feedback. My direct email address is email@example.com — and yes — that is my actual Inbox. No fancy filters or filing system and I read and reply to every single email.
So please let me know how you think we are doing. I look forward to hearing from you.
We will be back tomorrow with an incredible interview. Don’t miss it.
Until then, onward with gusto!